Daily Archive: 08/17/2011

Aug 17 2011

Puzzled

By now of course you have heard the story of Obama for America’s New Mexico State Director Ray Sandoval sending an official email-

Please take 5 minutes to read this, Please.

I know many of you have raised frustrations, but please, I implore you, please take 5 minutes and read the article below. It does a great job of explaining the Debt Ceiling deal.

Mr. Sandoval then links to a blog post on an obscure blog called The People’s View by a blogger named Spandan Chakrabarti who’s chief claim to fame seems to be he has “been participating in online and offline liberal activism since 2003, when Gov. Howard Dean ran for president.”

In his post Mr. Chakrabarti calls Paul Krugman “a political rookie” and says, “The more than half-a-trillion in defense and security spending cut “trigger” for the Republicans will hardly earn a mention on the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere.”

I’m not exactly sure whom this is supposed to impress.

To say that Mr. Chakrabarti’s resume doesn’t compare to a Nobel Prize in Economics is a trifle harsh because after all, who’s does?  I’ll say instead his online impact doesn’t begin to compare to mine let alone Jane Hamsher’s outside of this “happy” accident of getting singled out for attention as a particularly groveling toady by a low level apparatchik.

That low level apparatchik, Mr. Sandoval, is even more puzzling.  I can sort of sympathize with a pallid, Cheeto stained wretch desperate for sunlight and some sort of human attention outside of his mom yelling at him down the basement stairs, but an oh so savvy political operative?

As Jane points out in her response

(I)f this is a brilliant political strategy on the part of OFA, someone is going to have to explain it to me.  I know the goal is to attract the much-prized Independent for 2012.  But who do they think is keeping Obama’s poll numbers afloat?

As I’ve often pointed out (most recently here), Obama is hemorrhaging Independent and, more recently, solidly Democratic votes.  At 52% disapproval, Obama is below Harry Truman levels-

Ten incumbent presidents have sought re-election since World War II, and none has won a second term with final pre-election job approval ratings below 48%.

My final point is this- sticks and stones can break my bones, but whips and chains excite me.  If you think you can insult me by calling me a “Firebagger” or any other name you are sadly mistaken.  I just don’t care about your opinion of me that much.

I freely admit to every vice unless you have something novel you’d care to share.

Aug 17 2011

Voodoo all the way down

As I write this 10 Year Treasuries are yielding 2.16%.

Fixing the economy: We got it wrong

James K. Galbraith, The L.A. Times

August 15, 2011

(T)he economic models in use were obviously faulty. Why? Because they had assumed a “natural rate of unemployment” to which the economy will return whatever happens. This idea originated with Milton Friedman as part of his attack on John Maynard Keynes – who had argued, based on the stark evidence of the Great Depression, that mass unemployment can persist indefinitely. An economist who builds the natural rate into a model is like a doctor who assumes that her patient will always get better eventually, even without treatment. No such doctors exist, of course; that so many economists think this way is just strange.



This crisis was caused by financial collapse, rooted in massive banking fraud. The financial system is our economic motor and when it fails it cannot be revived simply by pouring money on it, any more than a wrecked reactor can be restarted just by adding fuel. Team Obama faced a situation not seen since the 1930s – a worldwide banking meltdown. The financial system needed to be rebuilt – and it still does. But Team Obama chose to overlook this.

The result was debt-deflation. Falling asset prices tipped more and more households into insolvency, business stagnated, tax revenues dropped, states and localities cut their budgets and deficits widened. The situation is similar in Europe, with countries rather than households in the deepest trouble, and wild rumors attacking the shares of even the biggest banks.



The solution has to be a long-term strategy: both a new direction for economic activity and new institutions to provide the money. The proposed national infrastructure bank – a permanent institution – is the right sort of thing and would be a good place to start.

To go further, let’s admit that our problem is not budget deficits or public debt – not now and not later. Let’s agree that cutting Social Security and Medicare – inflicting pointless pain on the elderly – will not help. Let’s build a new financial system to serve public purpose and private business. And let’s start to act on our actual needs and problems: jobs, foreclosures, public investments, energy security and climate change.

When economists use terms like “animal spirits” in their calculations why the hell does anyone take them seriously?

Aug 17 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Naomi Klein: Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery

I keep hearing comparisons between the London riots and riots in other European cities-window smashing in Athens or car bonfires in Paris. And there are parallels, to be sure: a spark set by police violence, a generation that feels forgotten.

But those events were marked by mass destruction; the looting was minor. There have, however, been other mass lootings in recent years, and perhaps we should talk about them too. There was Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion-a frenzy of arson and looting that emptied libraries and museums. The factories got hit too. In 2004 I visited one that used to make refrigerators. Its workers had stripped it of everything valuable, then torched it so thoroughly that the warehouse was a sculpture of buckled sheet metal.

Back then the people on cable news thought looting was highly political. They said this is what happens when a regime has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people. After watching for so long as Saddam and his sons helped themselves to whatever and whomever they wanted, many regular Iraqis felt they had earned the right to take a few things for themselves. But London isn’t Baghdad, and British Prime Minister David Cameron is hardly Saddam, so surely there is nothing to learn there.

Katrina vander Heuvel: The real grand bargain Washington should seek

“Pressure’s on for the deficit panel,” read a headline in The Post. President Obama urges legislators to pit country over party. An establishment chorus calls for courage to take on Socuial Security and Medicare and to find more revenue. The downgrading of U.S. debt by Standard & Poor’s; the stock market’s spasms; polls showing growing disgust of Americans with politicians of all stripes – all are invoked to push the 12 legislators on the “supercommittee” to reach agreement on another $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23, when they are due to report.

Amid the din, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi actually spoke some common sense in public, something that, if not quite extinct in today’s Washington, is certainly endangered. Naming her three picks to the committee last week, Pelosi urged the group to focus on “economic growth and job creation,” suggesting that its members should “make decisions regarding investments, cuts and revenues and their timing to stimulate growth, while reducing the deficit.”

Ruth Marcus: Rick Perry: Tax the Poor!

“We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.”

-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, presidential announcement speech, Aug. 13, 2011.

Washingotn – Really? Of all the ills in the world, of all the problems with the economy, all the difficulties with the tax code, this is the one that Perry chooses to lament?

Perry’s statement conjures visions of America as Slacker Nation, where the overburdened wagon-pullers drag an increasingly heavy burden of freeloaders. His number is correct but, like other conservatives who have seized on the statistic, Perry draws from it a dangerously misleading lesson.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that 46.4 percent of households will owe no federal income tax in 2011. This is, for the most part, not because people have chosen to loaf. It’s because they are working but simply don’t earn enough to owe income taxes, based on the progressive structure of the tax code and provisions designed to help the working poor and lower-income seniors.

Amy Goodman: San Francisco Bay Area’s BART Pulls a Mubarak

What does the police killing of a homeless man in San Francisco have to do with the Arab Spring uprisings from Tunisia to Syria? The attempt to suppress the protests that followed. In our digitally networked world, the ability to communicate is increasingly viewed as a basic right. Open communication fuels revolutions-it can take down dictators. When governments fear the power of their people, they repress, intimidate and try to silence them, whether in Tahrir Square or downtown San Francisco.

snip

Expect hacktivist groups to support revolutions abroad, but also to assist protest movements here at home. In retaliation for BART’s cellphone shutdown, a decentralized hacker collective called Anonymous shut down BART’s website. In a controversial move, Anonymous also released the information of more than 2,000 BART passengers, to expose the shoddy computer security standards maintained by BART.

The BART police say the FBI is investigating Anonymous’ attack. I interviewed an Anonymous member who calls himself “Commander X” on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. His voice disguised to protect his anonymity, he told me over the phone: “We’re filled with indignation, when a little organization like BART … kills innocent people, two or three of them in the last few years, and then has the nerve to also cut off the cellphone service and act exactly like a dictator in the Mideast. How dare they do this in the United States of America.”

Kristina Kallas and Akila Radhakrishnan: Why Is the U.S. Waging War on Women Raped in War?

Mandatory sonograms, forced lectures by doctors, humiliating permission slips from abusive husbands, paternalistic opinions from Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, uneducated and patently stupid soundbites from Tea Partiers. That’s not the worst. In this newest wave of the war on women, let’s not forget the U.S. government’s abortion policies toward women in war.

Rape is systematically being used as a weapon of war in conflicts worldwide. During the Rwandan genocide it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped in 100 days and that approximately 20,000 children were born as a result of rape. Recent reports from Burma indicate that Burmese soldiers have orders to rape women. 387 civilians were raped in Walikale, North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a 4 day period last year. In 2008 alone, the U.N. Population Fund recorded 16,000 cases of rape in DRC, two-thirds of them adolescent girls and other children, in an area where rape is vastly underreported. Imagine what the real numbers are.

Mary Bottari: ALEC: Facilitating Corporate Influence Behind Closed Doors

Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), corporations pay to bring state legislators to one place, sit them down for a sales pitch on policies that benefit the corporate bottom line, then push “model bills” for legislators to make law in their states. Corporations also vote behind closed doors alongside politicians on this wishlist legislation through ALEC task forces. Notably absent were the real people who would actually be affected by many of those bills and policies.

With legislators concentrated in one city, lobbyists descend on the conference to wine-and-dine elected officials after-hours, a process simplified by legislators’ schedules being freed from home and family responsibilities. Multiple Wisconsin lobbyists for Koch Industries, the American Bail Coalition, Competitive Wisconsin, State Farm, Pfizer, and Wal Mart were in New Orleans, as were lobbyists for Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Alliant Energy, and Johnson & Johnson. Corporations also sponsor invite-only events like the Reynolds American tobacco company’s cigar reception, attended by several Wisconsin legislators including Health & Human Services chair Leah Vukmir.

Donna Smith: How Many Dead Children for Profit?

On the right is a photo of a dead child from Pakistan, Syed Wali Shah, 7, that Michael Moore’s site featured when showing the continued prospects of civilian deaths attributable to U.S. drone strikes.  Syed is one of 168 children killed in seven years of CIA drone strikes, said the report cited, and in response to the findings, Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, said: “Even one child death from drone missiles or suicide bombings is one child death too many.”   The same report said a minimum of 385 civilians  (including the children) were killed over that seven-year period and that makes at least 52 civilians killed by these strikes each year or one each week.

It is a horrific reality that we (and many of our allies in the civilized and militarized world) participate in killing children.  It is right that we must look at their faces and hold our own souls and that of our elected officials and those who order the killings to account.

When I read about another child’s preventable death in Colorado and saw his face (also from a linked article on Michael Moore’s site), I waited a couple days to compose my thoughts rather than diminish either death or the numbers of deaths from decisions and actions by adults in power – whether those deaths are by acts of commission or omission or whether those deaths are in a distant foreign warzone or one in Denver or Dallas or Des Moines.

Aug 17 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Naomi Klein: Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery

I keep hearing comparisons between the London riots and riots in other European cities-window smashing in Athens or car bonfires in Paris. And there are parallels, to be sure: a spark set by police violence, a generation that feels forgotten.

But those events were marked by mass destruction; the looting was minor. There have, however, been other mass lootings in recent years, and perhaps we should talk about them too. There was Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion-a frenzy of arson and looting that emptied libraries and museums. The factories got hit too. In 2004 I visited one that used to make refrigerators. Its workers had stripped it of everything valuable, then torched it so thoroughly that the warehouse was a sculpture of buckled sheet metal.

Back then the people on cable news thought looting was highly political. They said this is what happens when a regime has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people. After watching for so long as Saddam and his sons helped themselves to whatever and whomever they wanted, many regular Iraqis felt they had earned the right to take a few things for themselves. But London isn’t Baghdad, and British Prime Minister David Cameron is hardly Saddam, so surely there is nothing to learn there.

Ruth Marcus: Rick Perry: Tax the Poor!

“We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.”

-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, presidential announcement speech, Aug. 13, 2011.

Washingotn – Really? Of all the ills in the world, of all the problems with the economy, all the difficulties with the tax code, this is the one that Perry chooses to lament?

Perry’s statement conjures visions of America as Slacker Nation, where the overburdened wagon-pullers drag an increasingly heavy burden of freeloaders. His number is correct but, like other conservatives who have seized on the statistic, Perry draws from it a dangerously misleading lesson.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that 46.4 percent of households will owe no federal income tax in 2011. This is, for the most part, not because people have chosen to loaf. It’s because they are working but simply don’t earn enough to owe income taxes, based on the progressive structure of the tax code and provisions designed to help the working poor and lower-income seniors.

Amy Goodman: San Francisco Bay Area’s BART Pulls a Mubarak

What does the police killing of a homeless man in San Francisco have to do with the Arab Spring uprisings from Tunisia to Syria? The attempt to suppress the protests that followed. In our digitally networked world, the ability to communicate is increasingly viewed as a basic right. Open communication fuels revolutions-it can take down dictators. When governments fear the power of their people, they repress, intimidate and try to silence them, whether in Tahrir Square or downtown San Francisco.

snip

Expect hacktivist groups to support revolutions abroad, but also to assist protest movements here at home. In retaliation for BART’s cellphone shutdown, a decentralized hacker collective called Anonymous shut down BART’s website. In a controversial move, Anonymous also released the information of more than 2,000 BART passengers, to expose the shoddy computer security standards maintained by BART.

The BART police say the FBI is investigating Anonymous’ attack. I interviewed an Anonymous member who calls himself “Commander X” on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. His voice disguised to protect his anonymity, he told me over the phone: “We’re filled with indignation, when a little organization like BART … kills innocent people, two or three of them in the last few years, and then has the nerve to also cut off the cellphone service and act exactly like a dictator in the Mideast. How dare they do this in the United States of America.”

Kristina Kallas and Akila Radhakrishnan: Why Is the U.S. Waging War on Women Raped in War?

Mandatory sonograms, forced lectures by doctors, humiliating permission slips from abusive husbands, paternalistic opinions from Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, uneducated and patently stupid soundbites from Tea Partiers. That’s not the worst. In this newest wave of the war on women, let’s not forget the U.S. government’s abortion policies toward women in war.

Rape is systematically being used as a weapon of war in conflicts worldwide. During the Rwandan genocide it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped in 100 days and that approximately 20,000 children were born as a result of rape. Recent reports from Burma indicate that Burmese soldiers have orders to rape women. 387 civilians were raped in Walikale, North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a 4 day period last year. In 2008 alone, the U.N. Population Fund recorded 16,000 cases of rape in DRC, two-thirds of them adolescent girls and other children, in an area where rape is vastly underreported. Imagine what the real numbers are.

Mary Bottari: ALEC: Facilitating Corporate Influence Behind Closed Doors

Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), corporations pay to bring state legislators to one place, sit them down for a sales pitch on policies that benefit the corporate bottom line, then push “model bills” for legislators to make law in their states. Corporations also vote behind closed doors alongside politicians on this wishlist legislation through ALEC task forces. Notably absent were the real people who would actually be affected by many of those bills and policies.

With legislators concentrated in one city, lobbyists descend on the conference to wine-and-dine elected officials after-hours, a process simplified by legislators’ schedules being freed from home and family responsibilities. Multiple Wisconsin lobbyists for Koch Industries, the American Bail Coalition, Competitive Wisconsin, State Farm, Pfizer, and Wal Mart were in New Orleans, as were lobbyists for Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Alliant Energy, and Johnson & Johnson. Corporations also sponsor invite-only events like the Reynolds American tobacco company’s cigar reception, attended by several Wisconsin legislators including Health & Human Services chair Leah Vukmir.

Donna Smith: How Many Dead Children for Profit?

On the right is a photo of a dead child from Pakistan, Syed Wali Shah, 7, that Michael Moore’s site featured when showing the continued prospects of civilian deaths attributable to U.S. drone strikes.  Syed is one of 168 children killed in seven years of CIA drone strikes, said the report cited, and in response to the findings, Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, said: “Even one child death from drone missiles or suicide bombings is one child death too many.”   The same report said a minimum of 385 civilians  (including the children) were killed over that seven-year period and that makes at least 52 civilians killed by these strikes each year or one each week.

It is a horrific reality that we (and many of our allies in the civilized and militarized world) participate in killing children.  It is right that we must look at their faces and hold our own souls and that of our elected officials and those who order the killings to account.

When I read about another child’s preventable death in Colorado and saw his face (also from a linked article on Michael Moore’s site), I waited a couple days to compose my thoughts rather than diminish either death or the numbers of deaths from decisions and actions by adults in power – whether those deaths are by acts of commission or omission or whether those deaths are in a distant foreign warzone or one in Denver or Dallas or Des Moines.

Aug 17 2011

On This Day In History August 17

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

August 17 is the 229th day of the year (230th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 136 days remaining until the end of the year.

The Dakota War of 1862 (also known as the Sioux Uprising, Sioux Outbreak of 1862, the Dakota Conflict, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 or Little Crow’s War) was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Sioux or Dakota which began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota. It ended with a mass execution of 38 Dakota men on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota.

Throughout the late 1850s, treaty violations by the United States and late or unfair annuity payments by Indian agents caused increasing hunger and hardship among the Dakota. Traders with the Dakota previously had demanded that the government give the annuity payments directly to them (introducing the possibility of unfair dealing between the agents and the traders to the exclusion of the Dakota). In mid-1862 the Dakota demanded the annuities directly from their agent, Thomas J. Galbraith. The traders refused to provide any more supplies on credit under those conditions, and negotiations reached an impasse.

On August 17, 1862, four Dakota killed five American settlers while on a hunting expedition. That night a council of Dakota decided to attack settlements throughout the Minnesota River valley to try to drive whites out of the area. There has never been an official report on the number of settlers killed, but estimates range from 400 to 800. It is said that until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the civilian wartime toll from the Dakota conflict was the highest in U.S. history (excluding those of the Civil War).

Over the next several months, continued battles between the Dakota against settlers and later, the United States Army, ended with the surrender of most of the Dakota bands. By late December 1862, soldiers had taken captive more than a thousand Dakota, who were interned in jails in Minnesota. After trials and sentencing, 38 Dakota were hanged on December 26, 1862, in the largest one-day execution in American history. In April 1863 the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota to Nebraska and South Dakota. The United States Congress abolished their reservations.

Aug 17 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 10 years after 9/11, did bin Laden or America win?

By Stephen Collinson, AFP

8 hrs ago

Osama bin Laden is gone, but 10 years after the September 11 attacks the United States is still entangled both by his legacy and the impact of its own avenging actions after the 2001 terror strike.

The horror unleashed in New York and Washington traumatized the public and sparked a “war on terror” that would stretch the legal system, send American soldiers to die in Muslim lands and eventually drain US global power.

In anguished days of mourning after September 11, the phrase “everything has changed” seemed on everyone’s lips as the country united, then went to war, starting with bin Laden’s Afghan lair.